Export Products From Natural Materials Should Be Mildew Free
Researchers at the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) urge manufacturers to prevent mildew attack on export products made from seagrass, sedge, and unopened leaf of buri palm.
PTRI researchers recommend applying commercially available mildewcide on furniture, houseware, fashion accessories and other products made from indigenous fibers such as tikiw (Rhynchospora corymbosa), bangkuang (Actinoscirpus grossus), and raffia (Corypha elata). According to the researchers, treatment with mildewcides may be done either to raw materials or the fibers or to the products before any finishes are applied.
In a study conducted by PTRI, fibers soaked in mildewcide solution for 10 minutes, drained and dried for two hours, and stored in an incubator, simulating the conditions of products in transit to other countries, showed no visible signs of mildew.
Untreated Tikiw after three months
Mildewcide treated tikiw after three months
Fibers washed with water and dried showed signs of mildew after a month, and about 40 percent of the fiber area was affected after four months. The other set of fibers, which were neither washed nor treated with mildewcides, attracted white spots and hairy mildew after two weeks. After four months, 80 percent of the fiber area had visible mold growth.
The researchers stressed that export products made from indigenous fibers are prone to mildew formation, especially during storage and shipment, when products are kept in areas with poor ventilation and warm and humid conditions. Mildews are either powdery or hairy gray to blue or gray-green fungi that coat plant- or animal-based products. These molds degrade the quality of the products making them unacceptable to foreign markets. The researchers also warned the public against possible effects of exposure to mildew, which could pose harm not only to products but also to humans. Allergies and sinusitis may develop in people with mild exposure to mildew, and kidney and liver failure to those severely exposed to this fungi.
PTRI is the Department of Science and Technology’s lead agency in textile research and development. The Institute supports the local textile and allied industries by promoting the use of indigenous resources and developing technical competence in said industries.
By Arlene R. Obmerga, S&T Media Service